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In Megilas Esther (4:4) it is written,” Vatishlach begadim lihalbish es Mordechai etc.’ “Esther sent clothing to dress Mordechai’’. Preceding this occurrence the Megilah tells us that word had reached Mordechai about Haman’s evil designs against the Yidden. Upon hearingthis terrible news he rent his clothing and donned sackcloth as is the minhag upon receiving sad, tragic tidings. When Esther was told that Mordechai had donned sackcloth, she immediately sent him fresh clothing to change into.

The heilige Tiferes Shlomo asked what was the purpose in Esther’s sending a fresh set of clothing to Mordechai? She, certainly, knew that Mordechai was not lacking decent clothing! Surely, if he would have been compelled to change into new clothing, he would have seen fit to tear the new set of clothing for the exact same reason that he saw fit to rip the original set due to pain and sadness?

Reb Shlomo Radomsker explains that there was a difference of opinion between Mordechai and Esther as to the best method to awaken Hashem’ s sympathy to the plight of the Yidden . Mordechai believed that by sharing the pain of the Shechina floundering in exile, the redemption would develop and progress. Partaking in the tzaar of the Shechina, was expressed, by the tearingof his clothing and the donning of sackcloth.

Esther’s message was, that although it is certainly praiseworthy, and even required to empathize with the pain of the Shechina, this would not be sufficient to awaken that desperately needed salvation. In order to awaken heavenly compassion, and to return the Shechina into their midst, an abundance of simcha was necessary. Chazal teach us “Ein haShechina shoreh ela mitoch simcha”; “The Shechina only dwells in an atmosphere of simcha”. The required setting for the Shechina is only, where there is happiness and where joy is flourishing. Depression distances Hashem’s company. Donning sackcloth is the antithesis of simcha . This was Esther’s message when sending clothing to Mordechai.

Towards the end of the Megilah, after Haman and his sons were hanged and Esther was bequeathed Haman’s house, Esther convinced Achashveirosh to issue a new set of letters, authorizing the Yidden to defend themselves, against the impending onslaught on the thirteenth of Adar. At this juncture, the Megilah writes that Mordechai appeared in public, dressed in royal garments. The Possuk tells us that the reaction to his majestic appearance in honorable garb was “ Vihair Shushan tzahala visamecha ”; “And the city of Shushan was inundated with simcha ”. There is an obvious connection between the mode of dress of Mordechai to the elation of the Yidden upon seeing Mordechai in his regal dress. Mordechai’s garb generated jubilance and the inhabitants of Shushan rejoiced even more, thus, ushering in the Shechina and the initial sparks of geula.

Esther felt that donning sackcloth would further distance the Shechina and in effect, despair of the geula . By outwardly maintaining composure and not demonstrating noticeable despair, the Shechina would feel comfortable making its return. Esther felt that viewing Mordechai in a state of despondency would be counterproductive.

The requirement to enjoy simcha on Purim is unlike any other Yom Tov that obligates simcha. On every other Yom Tov , one may not mix a different simcha together with the simcha of Yom Tov, whereas, on Purim anything that prompts simcha is considered a fulfillment of simchas Purim. This is because we are required to create an atmosphere to bring Shechinah and that happens when there is a general state of happiness. Purim we are granted myriad opportunities to engage in activities that engender simcha . Let us use these special days to create a permanent abode for the Shechina and to make Him feel at home.

The difference between a courtyard and an alleyway
An open courtyard demands a greater halachic “fix” than an open alleyway. One lechi or a korah is sufficient for an alleyway as opposed to a courtyard which must have either a pas daled or a lechi on both sides of its opening. The reason for this distinction is as follows; An alleyway serves many people and is not considered a private place, therefore it does not demand a structure that resembles a wall. However, a courtyard which is only used by a few people and is therefore more private, requires a structure similar to a wall in order to permit carrying.
[ משנ"ב שסג, קב, קח ו־קט]

Defining an alleyway

In olden times neighborhoods were built in the following way; A few homes would be built surrounding a shared courtyard and a few courtyards would share an alleyway which would connect them to a street. A halachic alleyway (which only needs a lechi or a korah) must have at least two courtyards attached to it. Each of those courtyards must have two homes open to them and each one of these houses must have an area of at least four by four amos. In addition, the residents must eat their meals in these homes, not just sleep in them. The residents of these homes may be Jews or non-Jews. If these requirements are not met the alley would have the rules of a courtyard.

[ שו"ע שסג, כו, משנ"ב קב, קד, שעה"צ עא, וביה"ל ד"ה שני, וד"ה ולכל; וראה שו"ע שפב]

Two courtyards opened to each other

As previously mentioned an alleyway must have two courtyards (each with two houses) open to it. The poskim disagree if the two courtyards that are opened to each other and are adjoined by an eiruv chatzeiros, would be considered one or two courtyards. The same question would arise if two homes are open to each other. The halacha follows the opinion that considers them to be two courtyards (or homes). If, however the second home is only accessible by walking through the first home than they are considered to be just one home.

[ שו"ע שסג, כו, ומשנ"ב קג; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 86-85 ,וראה עוד שם]
  • There are two methods how to calculate a tefach. Th larger method will be an additional 1/48 over the smaller method.
  • An alleyway built like a courtyard

  • A courtyard built like an alleyway

  • The accepted custom to only rely on a tzuras hapesach
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.
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